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Visiting Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle is a water fortress built during the Norman Conquest. It played a vital role in English history, including a six-month siege. Today, many of the structures remain unchanged since the late 1500s. Visitors can explore the ruins by booking tickets through English Heritage.


On-site parking is available at Kenilworth Castle. Members park for free and non-members are subject to a fee of £2 ($2.48). The car park is approximately 300 metres (328 yds) from the castle entrance, about a two-minute trek. Three disabled parking spots are available. Guests may prearrange for parking on the Castle Green.

The car park tends to be busiest on Bank Holidays.

Alternative parking is available at two nearby car parks:

  • Abbey End Car Park is located approximately 1.3 kilometres (.7 mi) from the castle grounds, about a 15-minute walk via B4103.

  • Abbey Fields Car Park sits about .80 kilometres (.5 mi) from Kenilworth Castle, approximately a 10-minute walk via High Street and Castle Street.


Entrance fees to Kenilworth Castle vary depending on the season. Check the English Heritage website to view the castle calendar for exact ticket prices on the date of your visit.

There are Off-Peak, Standard, and Peak days for visiting, with Peak days (usually weekends or Bank Holidays) typically being more costly.

Tickets booked in advance are eligible for a 10 percent discount. They must be purchased online, no later than 8:45 a.m. on the day of your visit. On-site ticket purchases are not eligible for the advanced booking discount.

For an idea of Kenilworth Prices, the table below features entrance fees (with the advanced booking discount included) for an Off-Peak date in May:

Kenilworth Castle Ticket Prices - May - Off-Peak

Ticket Type

With Donation

Without Donation







Child (5-17 Years)



Student (with Valid ID)



Family (2 Adults, Up to 3 Children)



Family (1 Adult, Up to 3 Children)



Senior (65+)





Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Gardens are open from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. daily. Last admission is granted no later than 4 p.m. Times are subject to change. Visit the castle calendar for more information.

The site tends to get quite busy on Peak days, usually weekends and Bank Holidays. To avoid large crowds, the best times to visit are before 11 a.m. or after 2 p.m.

Location and Access

The physical address of Kenilworth Castle is:

Castle Road




Guests arriving by vehicle should use A46 in Kenilworth. Signage is posted within Kenilworth town centre, just off of B4103.

Buses to the town of Kenilworth are available via bus service 11 and 11X. These buses run to Holiday Inn (Stand C) and the Shops (Stand B) in Kenilworth, both stops about a 12-minute walk to Kenilworth Castle.

The nearest train station is Kenilworth Station on Station Road. It sits approximately 1.6 kilometres (1 mi) from the castle grounds, about a 17-minute walk.

Know Before You Go

  • Kenilworth Castle has an on-site café. The Stables Tea Room has various food and drink options, including sandwiches, soups, cakes, tea, and coffee. From April to October, the café is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. From November to March, operating hours are limited to Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Gluten-free and vegetarian options are available.

  • Guests may have picnics on the castle grounds. Outside of the café, there are benches, which visitors can use to enjoy a picnic. Kenilworth Castle also features spacious grassy areas throughout the site that visitors can use.

  • The gift shop offers various souvenirs. English Heritage operates the Kenilworth Castle gift shop, where guests may buy themed items and gifts. Some items include children’s toys (i.e., swords, armour, etc.), tapestries, and alcohol.

  • Toilet facilities are on-site. There are unisex and accessible toilets located in Leicester’s Gatehouse. Baby-changing facilities are available.

  • Dogs are welcome. Kenilworth Castle allows pets and assistance dogs on-site, as long as they remain on a lead.

  • Many parts of the site are wheelchair accessible. Historic displays in the stables are accessible to wheelchair users. The gardens are accessible as well, though visitors must use a flat gravel path and grass. All floors of Leicester’s Gatehouse and Exhibition are wheelchair accessible using an elevator. The upper floors of the Kitchen Area and Great Hall are only accessible via stairs.

  • Foreign language audio tours are available. Guests may listen to the tour in English, French, or German.

Kenilworth Castle Weddings

The English Heritage website states that Kenilworth Castle is available for civil weddings. According to the Warwickshire County Council website, the venue offers an in-house wedding planner, disabled access, on-site parking, a cloakroom and bridal dressing room, magnificent gardens, and various elegant photo opportunities. 

The site features a dining room and oak-panelled room, both with a 60-person occupancy limit. Guests can request exclusive use of Kenilworth Castle for their wedding ceremony.

Keep in mind, Kenilworth Castle is a historic site, so there are restrictions in place to protect the grounds and the castle.

Kenilworth Castle Venue Hires

Whether you’re hosting a lavish birthday party, professional business meeting, history-themed photo shoot, or fancy reception, Kenilworth Castle is an excellent venue choice. Various settings are available, depending on your event, and include a modest dining area as well as the Oak Room located in the gatehouse.

Those interested in booking Kenilworth Castle as a venue for their next event should reach out to English Heritage for more information.

Kenilworth Castle Events

English Heritage hosts numerous events at Kenilworth Castle, from garden get-togethers and educational family events to live jousting matches and knight tournaments. In autumn, the castle hosts a Halloween Half-Term event where guests can solve mysteries and listen to scary tales. Occasionally, there are Ghost Tours held on the ground.

Some events at Kenilworth Castle require reservations and an entrance fee. Check out the Kenilworth Castle Events page for more information.

Places To Stay Nearby

Travelodge The Regent Leamington

8.4 km (5.2 mi) south

Travelodge’s The Regent is situated in an elegant area of Leamington Spa, featuring historic Victorian and Georgian buildings. It’s about a 12-minute drive from Kenilworth Castle and conveniently located near various restaurants, bars, and pubs. Rooms include bedside charging ports, a spacious desk, blackout curtains, tea and coffee facilities, and complimentary toiletries.


Premier Inn Warwick Hotel

9.7 km (6 mi) south

Premier Inn’s Warwick Hotel is about a 10-minute drive from Kenilworth Castle and a 5-minute drive from Warwick Castle. Double, twin, family, and accessible rooms are available, each including a hairdryer, a vanity area, tea and coffee facilities, and free WiFi. The on-site Thyme restaurant offers breakfast and dinner choices, as well as the option to purchase a meal deal for food discounts during your stay.


Royal Court Hotel Coventry

15.4 km (9.6 mi) north

The Royal Court Hotel is located approximately 4.8 kilometres (3 mi) from the Coventry centre and is a 20-minute drive from Kenilworth Castle. The historic country manors features an on-site restaurant and lounge, indoor pool, and complimentary coffee and tea in the hotel’s common areas. Twin, double, and single rooms are available and include a television, telephone, hairdryer, and free WiFi.


History of Kenilworth Castle 

Kenilworth Castle played an important role in England’s history. It was the site of King Edward II’s imprisonment and resignation, France’s rude gift to King Henry V, and the Earl of Leicester’s attempts to woo Queen Elizabeth I. The fortress is considered a prime example of a Medieval Royal Palace.

Time Line

- 1120s (Castle Founded)

Geoffrey de Clinton, Lord Chamberlain, established Kenilworth Castle in the early 1120s. However, conflicts between Clinton and his uncle prevented further growth of the castle.

- 1173-1174 (Castle Garrisoned)

Geoffrey II de Clinton passed away and the Crown came into possession of Kenilworth Castle. It was during this time that King Henry II’s son started a revolt, so Henry II garrisoned the castle.

- 1208-1216 (Castle Rebuilt)

King John commissioned the renovations and enhancements of the castle.

- 1266 (Castle Siege)

Simon de Monfort the Younger guaranteed Kenilworth Castle to the Crown but refused to hand over possession. As a result, Henry III besieged the castle. It was the longest and largest siege in the country’s history.

- 1279 (Knight Tournament)

Edmund Crouchback inherited the castle and held a massive knight tournament in the jousting arena.

- 1314-1317 (First Great Hall Built)

Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, commissioned the construction of the first Great Hall and Water Tower.

- 1345 (Great Hall Remodelled)

Henry of Grosmonth, Duke of Lancaster, completed lavish renovations in the Great Hall.

- 1373-1380 - (John Begins Building)

John of Gaunt began extensive enhancements of the Great Tower and ordered the construction of the Strong Tower, Saintlowe Tower, apartments, and a massive aristocratic kitchen.

- 1455-1485 (Military Base)

Queen Margaret used Kenilworth Castle as an important centre for military operations. Her husband, King Henry VI, was shuttled between various castles, including Kenilworth, for his own protection after his mental state began to deteriorate.

- 1563 (Modernisation)

Robert, Earl of Leicester, continued modernising the castle in hopes of impressing Elizabeth and convincing her to marry him.

- 1575 (Queen’s Last Visit)

The Earl of Leicester was eager to win Elizabeth over and, as a result, spent thousands on castle enhancements and entertainment. During her stay, he attempted to woo her with lavish pageants, fireworks displays, theatre productions, and elegant banquets. Though Elizabeth spent a longer stay at Kenilworth than any other castle, she did not marry the Earl.

- 1624 (Royal Visit)

“The Masque of Owls” was written by Ben Johnson and performed exclusively for King Charles at Kenilworth Castle.

- 1642 (English Civil War)

Kenilworth Castle acted as an important centre for Royalists during the war. After the war, however, the garrison was removed from the castle and Parliamentary forces took over.

- 1649 (Castle Slighting)

Parliament became concerned about the use of Kenilworth Castle again by the Royalists. As such, a slighting was ordered. Around this time, Leicester’s Gatehouse was transformed into living quarters, the Base Court became agricultural land, and other parts of the castle were used for stone and other building materials.

- 1660 (Castle Becomes a Farm)

Though the castle was in ruins, it was regularly used as farmland.

- 1821 (Tourist Attraction)

Very little was done to the castle to repair it. As such, it remained in a ruinous state while still being used as agricultural land. However, people became attracted to the site for its history.

- 19th Century (Castle Protection)

Kenilworth Castle’s stonework was beginning to deteriorate, so protections were ordered to prevent additional ruin.

- 1958 (Castle Granted to Kenilworth)

The town of Kenilworth was given possession of Kenilworth Castle. It had long been a historic landmark in the town.

- 1984 (English Heritage Takes Over)

English Heritage began managing Kenilworth Castle and opened it to tourists. The gardens were restored to their Elizabethan state.

Kenilworth Castle Occupants

  • 1120s: Geoffrey de Clinton, Lord Chamberlain, constructed Kenilworth Castle.
  • 1170s: King Henry II takes over and garrisons the fortress.
  • 1208-1216: The castle is granted to King John.
  • 1244-1266: Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, comes into possession of the castle. Prince Edward was imprisoned in the castle during this time.
  • 1267: Edmund Crouchback held knight tournaments at Kenilworth Castle.
  • 14th Century: Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, used Kenilworth as the primary estate for he and his wife, Alice de Lacy.
  • 1323: King Edward and his wife spend Christmas at the castle. Isabella continued using Kenilworth as her palace until her fall from the throne.
  • 1345: Henry of Grosmont, Duke of Lancaster takes over Kenilworth. Upon his passing, Blanche of Lancaster took possession.
  • 1373: John of Gaunt married Blanche of Lancaster. He spent a great deal of time on its grounds and completed many renovations.
  • 1399: Henry IV regularly used the castle, along with his son, Henry V.
  • 1450s: Queen Margaret made extensive use of Kenilworth Castle as her primary military base. She’d later use it as a protective fortress for her husband in 1461.
  • 1553: John Dudley takes possession of Kenilworth Castle. 
  • 1560s and 1570s: Dudley's son, Robert, Earl of Leicester, takes control. During this time, Elizabeth visited multiple times. The longest royal stay occurred in 1575.
  • 1611–1624: King James I and his son Charles made use of Kenilworth Castle.
  • 1643: Colonel Joseph Hawkesworth acquired the castle.
  • 1660s: Charles II removes Hawkesworth and takes control of Kenilworth Castle. Queen Henrietta Maria took control later, but after she died, King Charles II passed the castle to Sir Edward Hyde.

Kenilworth Castle Architecture

General Layout

Kenilworth Castle was a fortress built from red sandstone. It featured unusual water defences —  two large ponds that were formed after damming the nearby streams. In the late 14th century, John of Gaunt took over the castle and renovated it into a Mediaeval Palace.

It featured gatehouses, a curtain wall, various towers, a barbican structure, a defensive earthworks area, an outer bailey, and three castle courts, as well as The Great Tower, or keep, and a garden.

Original Layout

Visitors to Kenilworth Castle approached the grounds from a raised knoll. This causeway once served as a dam to create a lake surrounding the castle and later acted as a jousting arena.

During the 13th-century, the causeway was guarded by The Gallery Tower, at the time a barbican building that featured a massive stone wall and external gatehouse. This defensive tower protected the castle’s entrance from invaders or intruders. Later, it acted as an observation area for the audience during jousting matches.

The castle was surrounded by a curtain wall and included various towers throughout, including:

  • Mortimer’s Tower
  • Gallery Tower
  • Swan Tower
  • Lunn’s Tower
  • Water Tower
  • Strong Tower
  • Saintlowe Tower

Mortimer’s Tower sits at the end of the causeway and was part of the outer curtain wall. It acted as a defence for the outer bailey.

Beyond the Gallery Tower is another defensive area known simply as “The Brays.” This area acted as an additional fortification and utilised a wooden fence.

The lower flooded area of the castle grounds was known as the “Lower Pool.” West of the Lower Pool was an additional flooded area named the “Great Mere.” The Water Tower was named as such, as it overlooked the Lower Pool.

Outer Bailey

Kenilworth Castle’s outer bailey was originally entered through a Norman stone gatehouse. The walls of the outer bailey were long and low, not providing much defence in the way of height. The lack of tall walls was because the castle was designed to be defended by the Great Mere and Lower Pool.

The north side of the outer bailey wall had several defences, including a watergate leading to the Great Mere, the 17th-century King’s Gate, and the Swan Tower.

Base Court

The inner and outer courts of Kenilworth Castle were designed for different purposes. The base court served as the common area where most people could gather. The left and right castle courts were typically used for private events and entertainment.

Originally, the base court was more open than it is today. In it sat the 14th-century collegiate chapel and the 16th-century stables. The stable block was made of stone, but featured a wood frame and panelled first storey. 

Leicester’s Gatehouse sits on the northern end of the base court. During the castle’s heyday, it boasted towers and battlements, making it resemble the gatehouse at Warwick Castle. It featured a lavish entrance into the castle and also allowed access to the hunting grounds north of the Great Mere via a bridge. The interior of Leicester’s Gatehouse featured oak-panelled walls.

Left and Right Inner Court

Sitting on high ground in the west is the inner court. This area is renowned for its size, layout, and craftsmanship. The knoll on which it sits acted as a natural defence.

Much of the buildings in the inner court were constructed against the bailey wall. Apartments known as “King Henry’s Lodgings” once separated the inner court from the eastern side.

John the Gaunt, who transformed the castle into a royal palace, utilised a rectangular design. While the castle boasted an intimidating exterior, the interior featured lavishly decorated halls and rooms, particularly in the inner bailey buildings.

The Great Tower, or Keep, is a massive sandstone structure that acted as the primary defence of the castle and the primary living quarters.

West of this forebuilding were several buildings, including the Great Hall. Flanked by the Strong and Saintlowe Towers, there was a symmetrical design to its exterior. 

This hall was a magnificent architectural work of art and featured traceried windows (panes divided using decorative stone bars), a grand staircase, and at least six hearths. The windows offered spectacular views of the Great Mere and Inner Court. Its walls boasted stone panelling and once held treasured tapestries.

Right of the Great Hall sat the kitchen, which was double the size of a traditional upper-class kitchen. The Strong Tower also sat to the right, and held private rooms. The south end provided access to the Saintlowe Tower and apartments.

East of the apartments was Leicester’s Building. This building was a four-floor-high block, originally designed explicitly for the Queen as she travelled through England. With its large windows, breathtaking views, massive fireplaces, luxurious furnishings and decorations, it was certainly fit for royalty.


The massive sandstone Keep, known as the Great Tower, is a “Hall Keep” that sits atop a hill at the northeast corner of the inner court. It featured turrets and buttresses, sturdy walls at least 5 metres (16 ft) in thickness, and towers that stood at least 30 metres (98 ft) tall.

On the first floor were huge Tudor windows to let in natural light. The forebuilding on the west provided access to the Privy Garden.


The Privy Garden took up much of the castle’s right court. The entrance from the Great Tower’s forebuilding led to a terrace that offered spectacular views of the garden and the Great Mere. Arbours flanked the terrace and held aromatic trees and flowers. At its centre, the garden featured a magnificent marble fountain.

Modern Layout

The causeway leading to Kenilworth Castle was originally guarded by a barbican building with a massive stone wall and external defensive gatehouse. Today, the gatehouse no longer stands and this area of the castle grounds is part of the parking lot.

Kenilworth Castle’s large lake that once deemed the structure a water fortress is now drained. Originally, it covered nearly 40 hectares (100 acres). Today, it serves as a small meadow.

During the English Civil War, the northern curtain wall was destroyed. Lunn’s Tower is the only structure that survives along this wall.

The outer bailey is now accessed through Mortimer’s Tower, which is in a ruinous state. The Gallery Tower is also in ruins.

Inside the inner court, the collegiate chapel no longer stands, and only remnants of the foundation remain. Today, the inner court is surrounded by buildings on three sides. Originally, the eastern end was also enclosed, but King Henry’s Lodging no longer stands.

Leicester’s Gatehouse became a royal residence after the Civil War. Its stunning interior work was completed using various materials throughout other areas of the castle. It is relatively intact for its age.

The Great Hall and its lavish staircase in the Leicester Building no longer stand. While the entrance to Saintlowe Tower remains, all apartments in the tower have been lost to time.

Kenilworth Castle’s Privy Garden is known today as the Elizabethan Garden. It’s divided into four sections, with an obelisk at the centre of each quarter area. The garden boasts low hedges, beautiful plant layouts, and various species of flowers popular during Queen Elizabeth’s era.

Images of Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle Kenilworth Castle Kenilworth Castle
Kenilworth Castle Kenilworth Castle Kenilworth Castle

Images Supplied and licensed from Shutterstock Standard Licence Package

What Can I See During Visit to Kenilworth Castle?


  • Check out the interactive exhibition. Explore Kenilworth Castle’s history in the exhibition located next to The Stables Tearoom. There are various displays and artefacts showcasing what the castle would have looked like during its peak.


  • Enter Leicester’s Gatehouse. The Gatehouse’s bottom floors are displayed just as they would have looked during the 1930s. On the top floor, visitors can view a display that details the relationship with Robert Dudley and the Queen. While here, check out her bedroom and the Oak Room. Within the Queen’s private rooms, you can take in the views of the surrounding area. 


  • View the Norman Keep. For half a millenia, this mighty 12th-century Keep served as the heartbeat of the castle, and acted as its primary defence. Today, guests can check out the three-storey Keep with its massively thick walls.


  • Participate in hands-on family-friendly activities. In Leicester’s Gatehouse, children can dress up in clothing related to the era. They can also see and touch the cannon balls that were blasted at the castle.


  • Explore the gardens. The original gardens have since been lost, but they’ve been recreated based on historical data. It features a beautiful marble fountain and aviary for birdwatching.


  • Visit the Siddeley exhibition. Kenilworth Castle became a major centre for Armstrong Siddeley’s motor cars after their factory was bombed. Today, visitors can explore these cars and aeroplanes and the history of the company.

Kenilworth Castle Facts

  1. Several ghosts haunt Kenilworth Castle. Nearly 2,000 members of English Heritage staff were asked to cast a vote to determine the scariest English Heritage site. Kenilworth Castle came in second place. Guests and staff claim to have witnessed ghostly apparitions and furnishings moving by themselves. Some have experienced cold sensations and the aroma of tobacco smoke.
  2. King Henry V suffered a gruesome injury and was cured at Kenilworth Castle. When he was a teenager, King Henry V was horrifically injured during the Battle of Shrewsbury. After the assault, he was taken to Kenilworth Castle where John Bradmore removed an arrowhead from the future King’s face and cured him.
  3. Kenilworth Castle was recreated in the popular game Minecraft. English Heritage called upon experts in the game to build a virtual version of the castle. It was designed as it would have appeared during Queen Elizabeth I’s historic visit.
  4. The French insulted Henry V at Kenilworth Castle. In 1414, a gift arrived at the castle intended for Henry V. Upon opening the gift, it was revealed that it was tennis balls from the French. It’s believed the gift implied that Henry V had very little military power, which enraged the King.

Kenilworth Castle Q&A

What is the Significance of Kenilworth Castle?

Kenilworth Castle’s significance lay in its importance as a royal fortress and palace for centuries. The castle was the site of England’s largest and longest siege. Its architectural significance comes from its Medieval and Renaissance designs. It was a popular source of inspiration for Romantic artists.

How Did Kenilworth Castle End Up as a Ruin?

Kenilworth Castle ended up as a ruin after centuries of conflict and neglect. The 1649 slighting ordered by Parliament after the English Civil War further pushed the site into a ruinous state. Various walls and its battlements were destroyed to prevent use of the castle by Royalists.

Who Was Imprisoned at Kenilworth Castle?

King Edward II was imprisoned at Kenilworth Castle by his Queen, who had formed an alliance with Roger Mortimer. Edward II was deposed and Isabella granted custody of him to Henry, Earl of Lancaster. When Henry became constable of Kenilworth, Edward II was sent along as a prisoner and resigned in 1327.

Who Lived in Kenilworth Castle?

Various occupants lived in Kenilworth Castle, including King Henry II, King John, Simon de Montfort (Earl of Leicester), Thomas (Earl of Lancaster), and Henry of Grosmont (Duke of Lancaster). Other inhabitants included John of Gaunt, King Henry IV, Queen Margaret, Robert Dudley, and Queen Henrietta Maria.

Location of Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth is a modest town in Warwickshire County, England. It sits approximately 140 kilometres (90 mi) northwest of London, and is home to over 22,000 inhabitants.

The town is in a convenient location with excellent bus and train connections to nearby towns, including Coventry, Warwick, and Leamington Spa. In addition, Kenilworth offers a 3.9 hectare (9.7 acre) nature reserve, multiple theatres, and a large clock tower.

Other Places To Visit Near Kenilworth Castle

Abbey Fields

This park sits on 28 hectares (68 acres) of land in the Finham Brook valley. It is a historic site and Scheduled Ancient Monument that once served as farmland. Here, visitors can enjoy walking paths, playgrounds, a tennis court, a swimming pool, and a duck-feeding platform. Abbey Fields is open daily year-round.

Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle is a Mediaeval motte-and-bailey fortress built in 1068. Today, visitors can explore the castle grounds and partake in numerous activities, including an overnight stay. Activities include live shows, a play area, and various events hosted throughout the year.

Priory Theatre

This amateur theatre is run by the local community and boasts a 120-seat capacity. The facility hosts its own shows approximately seven times annually and also acts as the venue for various other theatre productions. There is an on-site bar where guests can enjoy a cold beverage as they watch the performances.